Over at Luna Park, David Backer wrote an open letter to the the online literary community where he says:
I had an idea recently that I want to ask you about. What do you think of having a quantitative award for literature on the Internet? The award would be given to particular stories/poems/pieces that get the most page-views.
The prize could have a website too that would rank stories in real time to see what people are reading. It would be a breathing comparative analytic constantly updating publicly like the schedule board in a train station.
It’s popular to say literary awards don’t matter. It’s the writing that matters and the pleasure or satisfaction we derive from writing that matters. If we’re nominated for an award, we say it is just an honor to be nominated. When we lose, we say it was just an honor to be nominated. If we’re not nominated we say awards don’t matter, we don’t care, it’s the writing that matters, we’re happy for those writers who were nominated.
- “The Whale Hunter” by Steinur Bell (Agni)
- “Intertropical Convergence Zone” by Nadia Bulkin (ChiZine)
- “No Bullets in the House” by Geronimo Madrid (Drunken Boat)
- “Fuckbuddy” by Roderic Crooks (Eyeshot)
- “The Fisherman’s Wife” by Jenny Williams (LitNImage)
- “Every Earth is Fit for Burial” by Cyn Kitchen (Menda City Review)
- “Interview With A Moron” by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (Narrative Magazine)
- “The Tale of Junko and Sayuri” by Peter S. Beagle (OSC’s Intergalactic Medicine Show)
- “Grief Mongers” by Sefi Atta (Per Contra Fiction)
- “Nine Sundays in a Row” by Kris Dikeman (Strange Horizons)
Every year since 2004, Jason Sanford of storySouth has curated the Million Writers Award, a contest designed to promote online fiction. Here’s how it works: editors and readers nominate their favorite online stories of 1000 words or more, then a team of judges whittle these nominations into a list of Notable Stories. Sanford then selects a Top 10, and people vote for the final overall winner, who this year will receive a $100 cash prize. Here are a couple paragraphs from Sanford explaining and advocating the award:
As the old saying should go: If you can’t join them, beat them. The storySouth Million Writers Award for best online fiction of the year will help all internet-based journals and magazines gain exposure and attention … The Million Writers Award takes its name from the idea that we in the online writing community have the power to promote the great stories we are creating. If only a few hundred writers took the time to tell fifteen of their friends about a great online short story–and if these friends then passed the word about this fiction to their friends (and so on and so on)–this one story would soon have a larger readership than all of the stories in Best American Short Stories.
Last year, HTMLGIANT friend Matt Bell won the award for his story “Alex Trebeck Never Eats Fried Chicken”, published in Storyglossia. Since Storyglossia is an excellent magazine, “Alex Trebeck” is a great story, and Matt is a terrific writer, something must be going right.
To be fair, the 1000 word rule is controversial. Some editors of online magazines believe the rule marginalizes sub-1000 word stories, which many proponents of online literature believe to be the form that the internet serves best. Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions award is a different and equally excellent showcase effort that helps somewhat alleviate this issue.
The important thing: celebrating online fiction. Which the Million Writers Award has done for 5 years now, so kudos. And remember: it’s up to you. Nominate your favorite stories, or Barack Obama’s going to win this thing too.